Jess Li
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UC Davis Intensive Brewing Science Scholarship Recipients Announced
Scholarship Recipients
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The Pink Boots Society is proud to announce the two recipients of the University of California, Davis Extension Intensive Brewing Science for Practical Brewing scholarship, each chosen by a selection committee of experienced women beer professionals who hold positions as brewers, educators and writers.

Jessica (Jess) Li of Young Master Brewery in Hong Kong is the national recipient and was selected to receive this scholarship due to what she has already achieved – “to come from winning her homebrew competitions to having her own startup to her current position.This all without any professional training.” In addition the committee felt, “This course seems as though in some ways it would be a lifeline for her. The chance to proudly proclaim that she is just as worthy as anyone else, regardless of her gender and/or ethnicity.”  

As the Experimental Beer Program Manager at Young Master Brewery Jess leads the creation, development and execution of the limited edition and experimental beer program that includes mixed fermentation and barrel aged beers. Prior to coming on board with Young Master Brewery her brewing experience encompassed homebrewing and a two year stint opening a pica-brewery with her brewing partner while working full time using her formal education to teach English. Of the pica-brewery, Jess said, “This was a two-person ran business that was a side/weekend only project to see if we could brew commercially. This was a very expensive personal market research but was a fun business project. The business closed down due to the lack of time we could commit to but the knowledge learnt was incredibly valuable.”

Jess has worked diligently to educate herself on all aspects of brewing but is excited to obtain formal brewing education, not only for the knowledge itself but also to provide validity to those in the brewing community that underestimate her abilities. She says, “I am respected within my team but I have no face or voice within the industry. I have become very passionate about changing this, as I feel like I am more than capable to intellectually speak and discuss in public. I do hold myself back and I am working on confidence but I believe this course will give me the boost I need to feel like this is my profession.”

Elizabeth O’Neill of Turtle Swamp Brewing Company in Jamaica Plain is the Boston Chapter recipient. The committee cited her “ability to articulate and relate her experiences” to the opportunity in choosing her and felt she would benefit the most from receiving the scholarship. They also noted her commitment to and involvement with the Boston chapter as well as dedication to the industry.

Homebrewing has been a part of Elizabeth’s life for nearly as long as she can remember. Her dad was a homebrewer, including her in the process in the family kitchen, and instilling in her from an early age, “a deep love for the magic of making beer.” She brewed a pale ale for her First Communion with her family at a brew-your-own facility and got a job while still in high school with a local brewery helping on the administrative side of the business.

After college she began homebrewing on her own and moved into her current position as the Taproom Manager at Turtle Swamp. Elizabeth says, “Despite my love for the magic of making beer, I have never had the confidence or, I thought, the experience to apply for any professional work in production. While I have held and thoroughly enjoyed my jobs, I have never stopped holding on to my secret dream – to share my passion for the magic of beer with the world by brewing professionally.”

The stepping stone that took her from dreaming to applying for this scholarship came while she was attending the Pink Boots Society Conference in Austin this past January. Surrounded by women who came from a variety of backgrounds and made their way into the craft beer industry she became inspired, recalling, “In mid-January Texas, over steaming barbeque, cold pints, and late-night conversation with female brewers from around the world, I realized I could be one of these women – What was stopping me? What barriers had I created that these women had jumped over and kicked down?”

The University of California, Davis Extension Intensive Brewing Science for Practical Brewing course is a five day on-site course that offers an intensive introduction to the sciences of brewing, engineering and brewing practice. Attendees will learn the technological and biochemical aspects of the entire brewing process from world renowned instructors Dr. Michael Lewis, Michael Long and Rebecca Bleibaum. Topics of the interactive lecture sessions cover all aspects of brewing from raw materials to fermentation to quality control and sensory evaluation.